Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is commemorating Armed Forces Day with a special family event in Ferndale on Saturday June 18th.
The Council will once again be recognising and marking this special day as it continues to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.
Following representation from Rhondda MP, Chris Bryant, this year’s event takes place in the close-knit community of Ferndale, the home town of two First World War soldiers and brothers who sadly never returned from battle.
Henry and Thomas Hardwidge both served with the 15th (Service) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment (Carmarthenshire).
According in newspaper reports at the time, in August 1916, Corporal Thomas Hardwidge was wounded by a sniper’s bullet and his brother Henry swiftly went to his assistance.
Tragically, whilst giving his brother a drink of water, Henry too was shot by a sniper’s bullet and both brothers died on the battlefield in each other’s arms and are buried in adjacent graves at Flatiron Copse Cemetery in Mametz.
Cllr Mark Norris, Cabinet Member for Corporate Services with responsibility for the Armed Forces, said:
“Armed Forces Day is a Royal British Legion initiative, supported by the Council, and it is marked every year in our County Borough in order to raise awareness of the contribution made by those who serve and have served in the Armed Forces.
“It allows our residents to show their support for those who make up the Armed Forces Community – from veterans and serving staff to the cadets, reserves and, of course, the families of troops past and present.
“As we remember the First World War Centenary, we are taking the opportunity to move our annual Armed Forces Day event around the county borough to re-tell some of the stories of how the conflict impacted on our communities.
“This year we remember and pay tribute to the Hardwidge brothers, two sons of Rhondda Cynon Taf who, like so many others, paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country and their bravery will never be forgotten.
“Rhondda Cynon Taf has a proud record of valuing its armed services, both past and present, and the Council’s Armed Forces Community Covenant is in keeping with such an approach and significantly takes forward the Council and the County Borough’s, objectives to support our Armed Forces Community.”
Rhondda MP Chris Bryant added;
“Armed Forces Day allows us to show our appreciation for the bravery and commitment displayed by our serving Armed Forces Personnel and the support they receive from the wider Armed Forces community.
“Particularly during the First World War Centenary, Armed Forces Day also gives us the opportunity to remember how past conflicts have impacted on our communities.
“The tragic story of the Hardwidge brothers from Ferndale, who died in each other’s arms in the battle for Mametz Wood, is just one example and, having raised the possibility of remembering their story with the Council, I am pleased they have chosen to do so by hosting this year’s Armed Forces Day event in Ferndale.
“This is a fitting tribute to the Hardwidge brothers and the many others from Rhondda who lost their lives serving their country and I hope residents will come out in force to remember them and to show their appreciation for our serving Armed Forces personnel.”
This year’s Armed Forces Day event in Rhondda Cynon Taf takes place in Ferndale on Saturday, June 18, starting at noon with a Military Parade through the town into Greenwood Park.
The Council will be providing FREE flags on the day in anticipation of residents and traders lining the route of the parade, and also joining in.
A Raising of the Flag ceremony will then follow at Greenwood Park, which will incorporate a Parachute Jump into the area by Jump4Heroes, the Royal British Legion Extreme Flight Team.
All are invited to come along and be a part of this poignant day, to reflect on the past and to celebrate the wider Armed Forces Community.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is proud of its Armed Forces Community Covenant, which sets out the commitment it shows former and serving members of the Armed Forces and their families, from financial assistance to signposting to support services.
It was one of the first Local Authorities in Wales to establish an Armed Forces Covenant in order to reiterate its commitment and value to the Armed Forces, both past and present.
The Council’s Armed Forces Day ceremony takes place in Ferndale at noon on Saturday, June 18. All are welcome to join the Military Parade and attend the Service at Greenwood Park.
Please Note: To allow the Military Parade to take place, road closures will be in place at Lake Street, High Street and Station Street, Ferndale, from 11.30am until 12.30pm on Saturday, June 18th. Diversions will be in place for the duration of the parade.